You can never guess who paid us a visit yesterday! It was about 11.30a.m, we heard a knock at the door. I went to get the door, in walked a lady followed by a man. I recognized the lady, Mrs. A, I had met her about two weeks ago in her office on her invitation. She introduced the man, Mr. R. from the Lagos state ministry of education. This is a surprise, but do come in I said. We were busy, so we got them chairs to sit down while we worked.
At this event, one of the government officials I met suggested that I try to get the Lagos state government acquainted with what we do at the CpCenter. She added that the present administration is sensitive to issues on disabilities. I took that advice and wrote letters to three ministries, introducing the Center, asking for recognition and inviting them to come in, see what we do and see how they can be of assistance to the children with cerebral palsy through CpCenter. About one week after, to my surprise, I got a text message from the ministry of education asking me to come to their office in Akoka for a talk, apparently the unit that deals with children with disabilities.That was when I met Mrs A. We talked, nothing special, she said the letter was forwarded to her from Alausa, wanted to know if the CpCenter is registered. Sure it is, copy of the certificate of registration was attached to the letter. Why did I start the Center? Copy of the brochure is attached, so the why is there, but succinctly put, apart from creating awareness of the condition CP and attempting to provide early intervention therapies to the children, the Center provides a sort of respite for mothers. A place they can keep their children and go to work and be rest assured that they are looked after, if you like, “a special day care center” as the regular day care centers do not accept them.
After I left that meeting, I started thing; what happens after the CpCenter? Which school will my child go to? I started the Center with the hope that the children will be integrated into schools with their peers. My hope is that they will be “included” in schools and not “excluded”. This was agitating my mind. On Monday, mummy Alf visited. Alf is 6 and has CP. He sits unsupported, crawls (though not very well), can pull to stand. Mummy Alf left her teaching job in a high brow school to take care of Alf. Actually I sent for her because I have not seen them for a while, Alf does not attend the CpCenter, but we are in touch. She told me that she has been looking for school for him, and she is yet to find any that will accept him. The government schools are out of the question, the private schools are built without any consideration for a child with muscle issues like a child with CP. I am sure that there are private schools that may accept the children, just to find them, some of the children may need to go with a shadow.
So you can imagine that this was the main issue I discussed with my guests from Lagos state ministry of education yesterday. Yes, Mr R answered, there are special schools and recently, the Lagos state government established some “inclusion schools”. please where are they located? Anyone around here? School I believe should be a neighbourhood thing, at least early schooling, children should not travel far for that. Hm…, I will get the addresses and send to you. But there is a special school for the hearing impaired around you. I know, but I would not send my child with CP to a school for children with hearing impairment under the name of a special school or what do you think? He looks at me blankly. The question is still unanswered; which school for my child?